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How African Football Teams Use COVID-19 Tests To Unsettle Opposition



On the eve of an African Cup of Nations Qualification game against The Gambia in November, players of the Gabon national team were left to sleep on the floor of Banjul Airport.

A furious and disappointed captain and star player, Pierre Emerick Aubameyang took to the social media to reveal the situation at hand. The story quickly gained international attention afterwards and again, raised questions about football organisation in Africa.

The Gabonese players were not taken to their team hotel until the next morning, after a supposed “administrative” interference.

Tom Saintfiet, The Gambia’s Belgian coach, in his comment said the Gabonese were architects of their own situation. According to him, they had refused to get tested for COVID-19 at the airport and that was why the players were left out in the cold. The Gabonese F.A condemned The Gambian F.A for the action and said their players had been tested before getting on the plane.

These stories were coming out of deep, agelong African pots of frustrate-the-opposition tactics. It’s not the first time visiting teams have had to face terrible conditions, inflicted on them by their hosts.

Other issues like bad sleeping foam, food, water and even training facilities are some of the tactics employed by African teams.

Compulsory COVID-19 tests have now joined the fray as one of the methods used in frustrating the opposition. While the tests are very important, the host team may decide to design the result, such that key opposition players won’t get to feature in crucial games.

An example reared its head in Plateau United’s game against Simba SC in Tanzania. Sunday Adetunji, a star attacker of the Nigerian side was initially tested positive for COVID-19.

Worried about the veracity of the result, and aware of the games African teams, including the team itself, can play to secure victory, the Nigerians approached a private hospital in Tanzania to have another test for the player. Unsurprisingly, the player tested negative.

Adetunji, revealing the incident on Twitter, said he saw the game from the VIP box, despite being told he tested positive by the team. Plateau United drew the game in Tanzania but lost on aggregate, having lost at home in the first leg.

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) must be at the centre of testing and passing players fit to play matches if hanky-panky games of this nature will be prevented.

African teams, both clubsides and national teams, will look to use the tests to their advantage and in very crucial cases and must-win situations, the home teams will look to hold sway.

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CHAN Kicks Off Today in Cameroon



The postponed 2020 African Nations Championship (CHAN) kicks off in Cameroon on Saturday.

There will be a ceremony and the hosts will play Zimbabwe in an inaugural match for Group A in the capital Yaounde.

But this year, security efforts have been stepped up to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Also, stadium capacity has been reduced to 25% for the first rounds and 50% for the second as part of COVID measures.

Troops have also been deployed as separatists have vowed to stop the games in restive English-speaking regions.

The matches will be played in Limbe for Pool D, Douala for Pool B and C and Yaounde for Pool A.

On security issues for teams based in the anglo region of Limbe, Constant Omarim the interim president of the CAF, said that Cameroon President Paul Biya has guaranteed the security of all participants in the competition.

“The Head of State gave us the assurance of all the provisions for everyone to be secure and that the competition will take place in the best conditions,” Omari said.

“He is concerned about the safety of those who will come to play but we think of everyone who will come there.”

Cameroon’s first match is expected to see star player Jacques Zoua shine.

He put his career in European football on hold so he could play in the CHAN championship.

The second match for group A will see one of the favourites the Eagles of Mali face the Stallions of Burkina, who have only competed in the games twice.

CHAN will serve as a warm-up for Cameroon ahead of the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations.

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Ivory Coast Confirms Venue for FIBA AfroBasket 2021 Qualifiers



The Africa Regional Office of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) on Friday in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire confirmed the venues for the upcoming February window of the FIBA AfroBasket 2021 Qualifiers.

After successfully holding the games of the Qualifiers in bubbles in November, the third and last window will also be organised as protected environment tournaments in order to ensure health and safety of all participants.

All remaining games of the FIBA AfroBasket 2021 Qualifiers will take place during this final window from Feb. 17 to Feb. 21.

The bubbles will be hosted in the cities of Monastir in Tunisia from Feb. 17 to Feb. 21 and Yaounde in Cameroon from Feb. 19 to Feb. 21.

Groups A, D and E will play in Tunisia, while Groups B and C will play in Cameroon.

Nigeria’s D’Tigers are in Group D, alongside Mali, South Sudan and Rwanda, who are the hosts of the finals.

The national teams which finish in the first three places of each group qualify for the 30th edition of Africa’s premier basketball competition, which will hold in Kigali from Aug. 24 to Sept. 5.

In case hosts Rwanda finish first, second or third in their group, then the three highest-placed teams will make it to the final tournament from Group D.

This also means that the best fourth-placed team in all the five groups, based on the classification rules of the Official Basketball Rules, shall obtain the last spot for the FIBA AfroBasket 2021.

A total of 16 teams are to play in the finals.

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Cameroon’s Joel Embiid Creates New Record for Philadelphia



Cameroon’s Joel Embiid has become the first Philadelphia 76ers player to record 45 points, more than 15 rebounds and over 5 steals in a single game since 1974.

Embiid, who played college basketball with the Kansas Jayhawks, created the record in Philadelphia’s 137-134 defeat of Miami Heats.

The Cameroonian 2014 draft for Philadelphia has so far had a good season with fans of the 76ers hailing his work rate and aggression.

Embiid’s teammate, Danny Green also created a franchise record of nine-three pointers from his total of 29 points.

The Cameroonian impressed and was all over the court as fans are already mouthing a possible MVP nomination for him.

“I’ve got a goal. I want to win the championship and I can’t do it alone,” Embiid said.

Nigeria’s Gabe Vincent and Precious Achiuwa impressed for Miami in the game with Vincent scoring 24 points in his first career start, while Achiuwa made his first start since being drafted in the top 30 picks during the off season.

Achiuwa, born in Port Harcourt, Southern Nigeria, scored 17 points and 13 rebounds in what’s the highest of his freshly-starting NBA career.

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